re: Also, this is for a friend who’s website I am building so is there a better more cost effective way to build it up than how i did it?
If all you are looking for is for the WP users to be able to add and maintain their own own with moderation. Your purchases are the most cost effective. If you want additional features of other extensions the the most cost effective would be to purchase the Extension Pro pack since it include all the premium extensions.
re: I found that they could access some of the dashboard that I didn’t want them too. Do I have to set the status or issue them with the admin login?
The amount of access a WP user has depends on the role assigned to a person when they are added. That roles has certain privileges called capabilities. For example, the Subscriber role, the Role I recommend using for users of the directory, the only capability they have by default is to edit the user password and profile. This is core WP feature not in any way related to Connections, but is utilized by Connections.
When Link is installed and activate, a WP user will have access not only to their admin profile page (core WP) they will also have access to their admin add/edit directory entry page. Nothing else, unless, you assign the Subscriber role additional capabilities (which is not recommended whether using Connections or not).
There are plugin available which block all access to the WP admin. If you do not what users to have access to the admin profile page you should install a one of these plugins. If you do this, you should provide your logged in users a way to change their password on the site’s frontend otherwise they will have no way of doing this.
If you do block the admin, that is where the Form extension is require (which you have already purchased). To allow your logged in users to use Form, following the setup docs. It basically will add a link on the directory page where they will be able to add/edit their entry on the site frontend.
Hope I have addressed your questions thoroughly!